Philosophy 1020 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Consequentialism, Logical Truth

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Utilitarianism
Ethics – one of the themes of the course is how philosophy interacts with other
disciplines.
Consequentialism: The goodness and badness, rightness or wrongness of an
action (policy, law, etc.) is determined by the goodness or badness (etc.) of its
consequences
Utilitarianism is a species of consequentialism; it adds a measure of goodness and
badness, rightness and wrongness.
Bentham
‘By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves to
the tendency which it appears to have an augment or diminish the happiness of the
party whose interest is in question’
‘An action…. May be said to be conformable to the principle of utility… when the
tendency it has to augment and the happiness of the community is greater than any
it has to diminish it’
Proofs of the principle of utility
1. It is not susceptible of direct proof (1.11), but criticisms presuppose it (1.13)
2. We defer to it owing to our natural constitution (1.12); it recognizes our
subjection to the two ‘sovereign masters’ of pain and pleasure (1.13)
3. Any principle that assesses an action other than by its consequences will be
either despotical or anarchical (1.14.4-6)
4. It is analytically true; it is false ‘that the word right can have a meaning
without reference to utility’ (1.14.10)
Two Kinds of Truth:
Analytic
and
Synthetic
A sentence is
analytically true
if it is true by virtue of the meanings of its words.
A sentence is
synthetically true
if it is true for reasons other than the meanings of
its words.
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